ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NACS, the trade association that represents the convenience and fuel retailing industry, and Conexxus, its standards-setting partner, are launching a digital identification age-verification system.
The new TruAge system makes the traditional carding experience more convenient and accurate, NACS said. It addresses age-verification beyond the traditional store register to online ordering, home delivery and curbside pickup, which have grown in popularity during the pandemic.
The solution is already supported by more than 130 retail companies that represent 22,000-plus convenience store locations in the United States, plus four industry point-of-sale (POS) providers. In addition, Molson Coors Beverage Co. is the first major global beer company to support TruAge.
TruAge makes it easier and more accurate to verify a customer’s age when purchasing age-restricted products, said NACS, and at the same time makes identity theft more difficult. The system uses a customer’s date of birth and photo to verify identity. When confirming age and identity, one-time-use digital tokens are placed on the customer’s mobile device to confirm legal age to purchase age-restricted products.
TXB and Kwik Chek convenience stores in the Austin, Texas, area, will pilot TruAge with additional markets testing the solution later this year.
“TruAge provides the least expensive method to reliably verify the age of our customers through the numerous face-to-face authentications already conducted in our stores. It does not expose sensitive personal information and is an important step toward eliminating youth access to adult products. No stand-alone POS system can do this today,” said Kevin Smartt, 2020-21 NACS Chairman, who is the CEO and president of Kwik Chek/TXB stores.
A national consumer survey conducted by NACS in 2020 found that 90% of Americans support a nationwide standard for age-verification, and 78% of Americans want a universal, compulsory approach for all age-restricted purchases. More than three in four Americans (76%) also said they would support the development of an age-verification program by major retailers that sell age-restricted products. Most consumers ages 21 to 30 said they would download the TruAge app after hearing a description of what it is and how it works.
“Our industry conducts 165 million transactions a day, and 50 million of them involve an age-restricted product. Consumers tell us that age-verification is essential to restrict access and sales to minors, and it is even more important today as new forms of last-mile delivery add challenges to making sure all online orders and deliveries of age-restricted products are legal,” said Henry Armour, president and CEO of NACS.
“We believe that consumer preferences for fast, safe and accurate digital age-verification are important as channels blur and more age-restricted products are sold through non-traditional formats,” added Armour, noting that TruAge will expand beyond the convenience retail channel and become “the de facto standard for age-verification across all businesses that sell age-restricted products such as restaurants and bars, as well as online providers.”
“Encouraging people to enjoy our products responsibly is at the cornerstone of our business,” said Jim Hughes, vice president of convenience for Molson Coors, Chicago. “We are excited to be an early supporter of this technology that we believe will help reduce underage access to our products and can be expanded across all our major markets.”
“TruAge can accelerate the three biggest demands that consumers are asking of retailers: Give me a fast, frictionless experience, provide more last-mile delivery options beyond the storefront and protect my privacy,” said Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus.
TruAge is free to retailers, consumers and POS providers, and its relevant intellectual property will be placed in the public domain—removing significant barriers to adoption.